This article argues that a strategy of active ageing, by linking the key policy domains of employment, pensions, retirement, health and citizenship, provides a sound basis for industrialized countries to respond to the challenges presented by population ageing. The article outlines the genesis of the concept of active ageing and the principles that should be embodied in a modernized, comprehensive approach fit for the twenty-first century. It then considers the potential for active ageing to address problems in the five key policy domains. Finally the article sets out a strategy on active ageing and illustrates how it might be operationalized at different stages of the life cycle. In conclusion the potentially beneficial nature of a comprehensive strategy on active ageing is emphasized: it represents the unusual combination of a morally correct policy that also makes sound economic sense.